The school holidays present the perfect opportunity to encourage children away from screen time to enjoy more traditional childhood pursuits such as reading, writing and imaginative play, advise experts.
“When it’s cold outside, the winter school holidays are the perfect time to encourage your children to enjoy reflective indoor activities such as art and craft, creative play, a new board game, or time just to enjoy some down-time,” says Ms Jocelyn Brewer, child psychologist.
Ms Brewer says that the average eight year old spends much more than the recommended two hours per day staring at a screen, yet more traditional activities such as writing a creative story can be extremely engaging and can encourage children to use their imagination in a way that computer based activities can not.
“Story writing fosters the use of imagination and encourages independent thinking.  Like a muscle, the imagination can do with stretching and being used daily.  Developing a plot, creating characters and a narrative help children to express themselves in a creative way,” said Ms Brewer.
Ms Brewer said that creative writing offers the following key benefits:
  • Creating detailed characters and adventures can unleash aspects of a child’s thoughts and feelings that may not be obvious or outwardly expressed.  It helps explore their sense of self and sense of others and also build various perspectives, which can teach empathy, acceptance and integrity.
  • Journalling and documenting experiences and activities helps recall and memory.  It can also help make sense of new experience and events.
  • Writing down observations assists with communicating thoughts and feelings, asking questions and developing curiosity.
  • Creative writing helps practice handwriting skills and improves fine motor skills.

Together with popular children’s author, Andy Griffith, Ms Brewer is a judge of the Pilot Pen Creative Writing Scholarship Program, a national story writing competition for children in year’s 5 and 6.

“This year’s Pilot Pen Creative Writing Scholarship has been extended to run over the school holiday period so children can take as much time as they need to write their story.  Entries need to be received by 22 August,” said Ms Brewer.
Children can win up to $11,750 in the competition by writing a story of between 250-350 words that starts with the sentence, “I used to believe…”

First, second and third prizes will be awarded in each State group (NSW/ACT, QLD/NT, WA, SA, and VIC/TAS) as follows:First Prize: $1,000, $150 Pilot pen pack, signed Andy Griffiths book pack worth $35.97
Second Prize: $500, $100 Pilot pen pack, signed Andy Griffiths book pack worth $35.97
Third Prize: $250, $50 Pilot pen pack, signed Andy Griffiths book pack worth $35.97
School Prize: A Pilot pen pack for every class that enters. 


For further entry details, visit: www.pilotpen.com.au

  • Wow I love reading this it has given me so many ideas on encouraging miss 7 away from the electronics


  • This house becomes craft central over the holidays, funny how they change as they get older and want to do more hands on stuff


  • I’m pleased to say that our holidays have been so far largely screen free. My son attended the first week at a holiday program and the second week at a camp where phones, iPads etc aren’t allowed.


  • Getting the kids to read a book or do some craft work is a great way for them to have down time


  • Instead of electronics in cars on longer trips my son and I have now introduced a quiz game that we both love. It is very educational for him. He will ask me the answers to things he has learnt at school and I ask him questions like “what is the capital of Australia,” etc. I love it and so does he. He is a chip off the old block I think.


  • My kids had no technology until they were in year 6. They did not even ask for it.
    We had many games and craft books and I would buy them canvas and wood so
    they could build cubby houses in the school holidays. Kids would ask to come and
    play with my kids as they had the freedom of imagination. Water play with bags of clean
    sand and soil to make mud pies and garden soup. The girls made fairy gardens and we made
    our own bow and arrows and targets. Ball play was always on the a gender and walks to the park. We went on park hunts walking from one to the other taking our back-packs and then the bus home if we strayed too far by the end of the day. Bush walking in our area is always fun. I would like to mention that the fresh air and fun made them sleep well at night!


  • My kids are too young for the competition, but I agree with the principle.


  • Thankyou for posting this. I’m going to get my 10yr old son to enter.


  • Such a great idea, technology has just taken over now, gone are the days when kids used to play outside in the street with other children..


  • a very interesting read and something to think about


  • Interesting


  • As a mother of three amazing children I find it very hard trying to keep them busy. My husband and I do not allow the to have any technology apart from alittle tv in the morning. My two older children love doing arts and crafts, lego and playing outside. The image they have is amazing. But I am really worried when they go to school they will be the odd ones out as they do not know about any computers.


  • when its cold out side, try a indoor picnic, spread a rug, place the food, surround the rug with some comfy cushions and sit or lay down and read a good book with delicious food to eat at will.


  • While computers are now a part of everyday life, and are an invaluable learning tool, it’s also good for children to be aware of activities that don’t involve computers. Craft, cooking, reading books, playing games, writing, gardening, all sorts of things can be enjoyed by children of all ages. And it’s good practice for any interruptions to power supply … less wailing of “now what are we going to do” if the power goes out.


  • My kids get online to read books, learn & explore our world, space.
    They also read books & learn too though


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